During Tuesday’s hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D., Calif.) declared that failing to encourage people to sign up for government-mandated health insurance is downright “un-American.” Speier was referring to Congress’s refusal to fund the Obama administration’s Obamacare “outreach” efforts with taxpayer dollars (although the administration will still be running lots of taxpayer-financed pro-Obamacare propaganda ads later this summer with money that it has managed to cobble together from various sources).
It would appear that Speier’s view is shared by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who has been trying to remedy this apparent affront to our nation’s core principles by soliciting private “donations” for Obamacare implementation. She has been seeking these donations from those whose businesses she effectively has the power to make or break with a wave of her regulatory wand.
When asked during the hearing about Sebelius’s actions, which even the Washington Post calls “unusual,” Sebelius’s underling Gary Cohen testified that he saw nothing wrong with her efforts. With a straight face, Cohen — who heads up Obamacare’s newly created Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (which doesn’t sound at all Orwellian) — dismissed Sebelius’s actions as merely encouraging “public-private partnerships.”
The CCIIO head was also asked by Congressman Kerry Bentivolio (R., Mich.) — one of the few representatives who, rather refreshingly, refused to refer to Obamacare (officially named the clunky-sounding Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — or PPACA) as the “Affordable Care Act” — whether Obamacare’s centerpiece individual mandate is a tax. Amazingly, Cohen refused to grant that it is.
So, to recap on this point: First (when he was running for president), President Obama insisted that he opposed an individual mandate. Then (when he was pushing Obamacare down the throats of an unwilling citizenry), he championed an individual mandate. Then he emphatically said on national television that the individual mandate is not a tax. Then he shamelessly had his legal team argue before the Supreme Court that the mandate is a tax. Then the Court ruled that the mandate is a tax — and that, if it weren’t, the mandate would be unconstitutional because (contrary to Obama’s further claim) it exceeds Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. And now Cohen, who holds a key position in the Obamacare chain of command, refuses to grant that the mandate is a tax — even though that’s the sole thread from which its highly dubious constitutionality hangs.
One thing is clear: A newly beefed-up (courtesy of Obamacare) IRS will be enforcing the mandate and treating it like a tax, at the expense of private citizens. Just call it a “public-private partnership.” It would be “un-American” to do otherwise.
Jeffrey H. Anderson is executive director of the newly formed 2017 Project, which is working to advance a conservative reform agenda.